Thursday, 12 July 2012

Can't say it any clearer

Unambiguous communication is becoming a bit of a theme this week.

Not just me, delivering the news to Squirrel that I shall chop off her hair if she doesn't brush it. That's pretty unambiguous, isn't it? And not only Matthew Dunster, directing Queen Titania to bare her bosom at the sight of Bottom with his ass head. I think that's pretty unambiguous, too.

It's Pushwagner.

No, I'd never heard of him either. I won't pretend I had. His first solo exhibition outside Norway is at MK Gallery. Don't imagine he's some callow youth. He's venerably over 70 and a modern-day Munch, so it's time we knew of him.

I throw Shark, Squirrel and Tiger at his work today, joining a group of home ed kids and a workshop. Not knowing what we were to see, never having heard of Pushwagner, I arrived expecting more of the same old clap, having been bruised last week at the Tate, but that totally unprepared me for the graphic art of Soft City.

This is astonishing, determined, obsessive stuff, suited to autistic spectrum art. Mind-blowing in its detail, compulsion, and perseverance.

The message is unambiguous, too. I don't stand in front of Pushwagner wondering what he's trying to say. He couldn't say it clearer unless it included a knock-out blow straight between the eyes. Modern society, with its deadening mass production and relentless drive to consume, has created a population of individuals without identity or difference: they are like automatons in metropolis. In this system, where are you?

Metropolis (the 1927 Fritz Lang film) is exactly what I stick in the DVD after the workshop. It's a perfect complement.

The little grits are slightly underwhelmed by this message of mechanised life in a dehumanised dystopian city. Possibly they are a little bludgeoned by the heavy mix of Pushwagner, Lang, and the workshop leader who managed to get our group of 6-12 year olds to compose faces of mindless robotic automatons using sugar paper and marker pens.

I wag my finger at Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. I tell them they have yet to learn about crushing totalitarian visions filled with the walking dead. Home ed kids always think they're unique and that every day is different! Worse, they imagine they have power over their decision making! That they can choose not to lead a life made from mind-numbing, spirit-killing labour dedicated to mindless consumption!

I add, don't forget, there are loads of home ed people to whom this sort of thing speaks volumes. I only have to whisper New World Order and they're off with the total oppression and manipulation of the masses, and don't look for any ambiguity in that, either.

After a day of Pushwagner, Lang, and a little light reading from the depressed on the home ed lists, I'm feeling a little bludgeoned myself. You can go and see why. Then let me know when it's time for some poetry, ambiguity, and deniable interpretation.

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